Statement by H.E. Archbishop Celestino
Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer
of the Holy See
62nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly
Before the Third Committee, on item 62
Implementation of the outcome of the
World Summit for Social Development and of
the twenty-fourth special session of the General Assembly
New York, 9 October 2007
At the 1995 Copenhagen World Summit for Social Development, the Member States of
the United Nations affirmed the need to address the problem of poverty by
attacking its structural roots. They decided to incorporate into their national
policies, as an essential element, a sharp reduction of inequality and of the
various forms of marginalization and to achieve full social integration.
The international debate following the Copenhagen Summit shifted its focus to
the global fight to eradicate extreme poverty centred on achieving the MDGs. It
also stressed the conditions required for equity in bilateral and multilateral
financial and trade relationships and made special reference to the WTO Doha
Round. The debate touched on the problems of external debt, the governance of
world finance and the emergencies that generate or aggravate poverty, such as
wars, corruption, the trafficking of drugs and human beings.
While this discussion is of utmost importance, it is equally important to
reiterate that economic policies cannot be separated from social policies;
otherwise, neither one nor the other will reach its respective goal. Indeed,
during the last twelve years there has been a clear tendency towards increasing
inequality between rich and poor, between developed and developing or
underdeveloped countries and within individual nations. Evidently, the greater
benefits of global economic growth have not reached, generally speaking, the
poorer segments of society.
So far, only a few States have achieved a right balance between success in a
global market-driven economy and the preservation, even a fine tuning, of social
protection, thus ensuring a person-centred development. Instead, in many cases
new forms of poverty in both rich and poor countries have appeared side by side
with the more traditional ones mainly characterised by wide income differences.
The dearth of means among the weaker sectors of society has led to the loss of
social relationships and networks needed to maintain personal integrity and
dignity. Such is the case of the elderly left on their own, of the uninsured
sick people, of the unemployed and the unskilled, of migrants unable to find
work, of women and children suffering from family breakdown, of all those in
The Copenhagen Summit already foresaw the problems that the rapidly globalising
economy would provoke if not accompanied by a renewed attention to the social
dimension of economic development. Today the world suffers from the unhinging,
in greater or lesser degree, of social development from economic progress. Hence
the Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action continue to be relevant. They
indicate the necessary means to overcome marginalisation and to create the
conditions for all to benefit from economic development.
While the responsibility for social equity lies primarily with individual
Governments, the international community has the duty to cooperate actively in
its implementation, both by creating trade and financial conditions favourable
to the growth of all national economies and by rejecting conditionalities that
would restrict States from adopting policies aimed at helping the less favoured
sectors of society, such as the disabled and the elderly. The international
community is called to assist States develop such policies, promote a new
culture of solidarity and empower the poor to be protagonists of their own
Education is at the basis of all social policies. The value of education goes
beyond economic development and the satisfaction of one’s basic needs. Education
enables individuals and peoples to establish with others relationships founded
on mutual respect and friendship and not on coercion. An educated society
facilitates the fight against corruption which erodes the possibility of
economic growth of the poorest. It also helps create a legal framework which
leaves ample space to the rights of property and free enterprise, while
safeguarding at the same time the full enjoyment of the social and economic
rights of all without exception.
The eradication of poverty and the full enjoyment of the basic social rights by
all individuals and of their families is fundamentally a moral commitment.
Indeed, the indications and suggestions contained in the Copenhagen Declaration
are no more than a translation into the language of international relations of
those ethical values that exist in the heart of every man and woman and are
enunciated in moral and religious precepts. The eradication of poverty and the
full enjoyment of the basic social rights by all must therefore be goals
enshrined in all economic and development policies, and be measures of their
success or failure.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.